Lessons learned from a 5-year experience with a 4-week experiential quality improvement curriculum in a preventive medicine fellowship

J Grad Med Educ. 2009 Sep;1(1):93-9. doi: 10.4300/01.01.0015.


Background: Competency in practice-based learning and improvement (PBLI) and systems-based practice (SBP) empowers learners with the skills to plan, lead, and execute health care systems improvement efforts. Experiences from several graduate medical education programs describe the implementation of PBLI and SBP curricula as challenging because of lack of adequate curricular time and faculty resources, as well as a perception that PBLI and SBP are not relevant to future careers. A dedicated experiential rotation that requires fellow participation in a specialty-specific quality improvement project (QIP) may address some of these challenges.

Method: We describe a retrospective analysis of our 5-year experience with a dedicated 3-week PBLI-SBP experiential curriculum in a preventive medicine fellowship program at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Results: Between 2004 and 2008, 19 learners including 7 preventive medicine fellows participated in the rotation. Using just-in-time learning, fellows work together on a relatively complex QIP of community or institutional significance. Since 2004, all 19 learners (100%) participating in this rotation have consistently demonstrated statistically significant increase in their quality improvement knowledge application tool (QIKAT) scores at the end of the rotation. At the end of the rotation, all 19 learners stated that they were either confident or very confident of making a change to improve health care in a local setting. Most of the QIPs resulted in sustainable practice improvements, and resultant solutions have been disseminated beyond the location of the original QIP.

Conclusion: A dedicated experiential rotation that requires learner participation in a QIP is one of the effective methods to address the needs of the SBP and PBLI competencies.